January 31, 2012


In Washington, the accepted wisdom by year-end was that the technology industry had matured at last into a lobbying force commensurate with its size and pocketbook. But what everyone missed was that the users had opened a third front in this fight, and clearly the one that determined its outcome.

The bitroots movement wasn’t led by Google. It wasn’t led by anyone. Even to look for its leaders is to miss the point. Internet users didn’t lobby or buy their way into influence. They used the tools at their disposal—Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and the rest—to make their voices heard. They encouraged voluntary boycotts and blackouts, and organized awareness days. This was a revolt of, by and with social networks, turning the tools that organized them into groups in the first place into potent new weapons for political advocacy. The users had figured out how to hack politics.

Somebody should really write a book on this phenomenon.

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